module specification

FC7P05 - MSc Project (Distance Learning) (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title MSc Project (Distance Learning)
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 60
School School of Computing and Digital Media
Total study hours 600
 
568 hours Guided independent study
32 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 100%   Coursework (report)
Coursework 0%   Viva (compulsory)
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Spring semester LMET Distance Learning - -
Summer studies LMET Distance Learning - -
Year LMET Distance Learning - -
Autumn semester LMET Distance Learning - -

Module summary

The module provides students with the experience of planning and bringing to fruition a major piece of individual work. Also, the module aims to encourage and reward individual inventiveness and application of effort through working on research or company/local government projects. The project is an exercise that may take a variety of forms depending on the nature of the project and the subject area. Particular students will be encouraged to carry out their projects for local companies or government departments.

Prerequisites: Research and Development skills

Assessment:  100% coursework (project viva is compulsory for all students and will be conducted through video conferencing)

Prior learning requirements

FC7004 Research & Development Skills

Module aims

The module aims to encourage and reward individual inventiveness and application of effort. It also aims to allow students:

- To have an opportunity to assimilate the knowledge they gained in their course and extend this knowledge to new area of application.

- To apply newly acquired knowledge and techniques to a specific problem using established research techniques and methods.

- To determine the framework of the project according to a set of specifications relevant to the subject of study.

- To manage an extended piece of work by confining the problem within the constraints of time and available resources.

- To research effectively the background material on the topic using a variety of sources and to develop ability to conduct critical analysis and draw conclusions.

- To develop the ability to produce detailed specifications and design frameworks relevant  to the problem of investigation in the subject related to the industry.

- To demonstrate the originality in the application of new knowledge and skills.

- To effectively communicate the work to others by means of verbal and appropriate documentation techniques.

- To raise awareness in potential business development opportunities in an area pertinent to  the topic.

Syllabus

The project topic will be mainly associated with the specific pathway of the MSc Distance learning programme. Projects associated with industrial application will be the basis of most titles. Although the project is not expected to be a wholly original piece of research, the research element should be of a good contribution to knowledge of its kind. It is an exercise that may take a variety of forms and it may involve the specification, design, implementation, validation and documentation of a substantial piece of individual application that might fall in areas such as computing principles, advanced communication system, distributed systems, mobile and wireless technologies, numerical and statistical approaches, IT strategy development and digital media solutions.  Projects involving creating work for real clients will be producing original work/ artifacts/ pieces of work /applications.

Projects that involve literature surveys, or empirical field studies, or evaluation of one or more techniques, methods or tools are also acceptable. However, projects that are wholly or mainly literature surveys, or comparative studies – based on case studies - with no practical outcome are discouraged.

The problem should be sufficiently challenging that it cannot be dismissed as mere implementation of a standard solution. Although the project is not expected to be a wholly original piece of work, students are expected to show that they have exercised initiative and worked independently. The scope of the project is not only to complete a well-defined piece of work in a professional manner, but also to place the work into the context of the current state of the art of the subject area.

Staff will be invited to formally propose project titles in their respective area of research. Students can either choose one of the proposed titles or identify a problem themselves; a list of research topics in various areas will be made available to all students in a project web portal. Students can choose any topics of interest to them and discuss them with potential supervisors who will provide advice and guidance. Students will then be asked to write and submit a short project proposal describing the nature of the problem, aims, objectives, rationale, methodology and project plan and demonstrating that the idea is of a scientific relevance. Prior to starting their projects, students should fill in ethics checklist form and submit it to Faculty's project panel for approval.

Once students start their projects they are expected to:

1. Conduct an indepth backgroung reading pertinent to project topics (domain understanding).
2. Demonstrate confidence in applying original and innovative ideas.
3. Select, justify and apply a suitable methodology and investigative techniques.
4. Carry out an independent research, problem analysis and specification.
5. Design, establishment and development of problem solution.
6. Critically discuss and evaluate the work and reflect upon its limitation.
7. Write a good quality and well structured report.
8. Present and communicate effectively the project outcomes to member of staff which include own supervisors.
Supervisors will provide advice, guidance and support for the duration of the project through either video conferencing or skype. Developing a solution may involve innovation in the application of techniques taught in the course or in the discovery of relevant material from sources such as libraries and the Web. The student is also expected to manage the work by confining the problem within limits, which will allow useful work to be done despite the constraining effects of time and other limited resources, and to effectively communicate the work to others.
Students will be strongly encouraged to undertake project work for an outside body, in order to have the opportunity to tackle a real-world problem.

Learning and teaching

The duration of the Project module is typically assumed to be 15 weeks (full time) after the completion of the taught part of the course. This sequence of study will be the same for both full time and part time students. 

The distance learning delivery of the module affords the student the flexibility of studying for the module at their own time in their own style at their own location while receiving effective guidance and support throughout the module. The University’s state-of-art Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) is used to provide a highly interactive, supportive and collaborative learning experience for the students. A wide range of synchronous and asynchronous facilities are used where appropriate for the effective delivery and assessment of the module, as well as active engagement and support for the students. Among these facilities are WebLearn learning materials, video conference and skype, discussion board and online forum, and online presentation, viva and feedback.  Students are encouraged to become active participants, rather than passive recipients, of this learning process.

At the start of  MSc project module, each student will be allocated a MSc project, and a supervisor. The supervisor is expected to regularly guide, advice and support students  using a variety of communication channels such as group discussion board, Skype, video conference, email etc.. Students are expected to make use of the supervision period to discuss academic problems, current progress and future development.

The roles of the module leader, supervisor and student are further specified as below:

Module Leader:
Module Leader is responsible for the allocation of appropriate supervisors to the students. A series of sessions which include induction, workshops and discussion of issues that are of general interest will be scheduled between the Module Leader and the cohort through video conferencing; issues such as literature review, report structure,  project management,  assessment instrument.. etc. will be covered. Also online forum discussion will be organised to maximise communication with students.

Supervisor:
The supervision will typically take a total of 8 hours for the whole semester for the proper conduct of the project. Whilst  the supervisor will act as a mentor, it is expected that these sessions will be student led, with the supervisor offering direction during the session. This might involve cultivating student's ability to summarise and defend effectively choices made and decisions taken, or initiating stimulating discussions that might lead to further reading or which will deepen students' understanding, self management and time management. In addition,

Student:
Students will be expected to adopt a problem solving approach. They will undertake a major case study in which they will be expected to produce a mature solution to a specific industrially determined problem. Throughout the project students are expected to glean texts and relevant materials from different sources such as conference and journal papers, magazine articles, books
and the Internet.

Projects involving collaboration with industry will be encouraged and, where appropriate, supervision may be carried out by the collaboration partner in addition to the academic supervisor.

Students are expected to complete a total of 600 learning hours for this module. This includes:

      Guided learning, teaching and related activities (synchronous and asynchronous) 
• 24 hours – Module Leader arranges workshops for 2 hours for 12 weeks to discuss projects’ key issues with students.
• 8 hours - Supervisors arrange meetings with their students to provide guidance and support using, e.g. Skype.
• Clear guidance and other pertinent materials will be provided.

Guided Independent Study
• 400 hours, and report writing 168 hours

Learning outcomes

LO1 Plan, schedule, monitor and control his/her own work
LO2 Produce a clear set of specifications for the project from its initial stage
LO3 Defend ideas in discussions with the supervisor
LO4 Critically analyse previous relevant work and set of data in its widest context;    according to the subject area and topic of the project, data may be interpreted as: raw data publically available, data experimentally produced, data generated theoretically or even data as a set of various approaches and methodologies to problem solving.
LO5 Use effectively libraries and other information sources
LO6 Understand ethical, legal and professional issues and apply them to a project
LO7 Apply tools, skills and techniques he/she developed in taught modules
LO8 Communicate effectively findings in a variety of ways
LO9 Understand the role of the deliverables at the various stages of the project cycle
LO10 Write a comprehensive and concise report, justify the project implementation, discuss and explain findings at the viva
LO11 Critically evaluate the project outcomes

Assessment strategy

The project runs either in Autumn semester, Spring semester or Summer semester with the final submission in January, May and September respectively. Viva would normally take place within three weeks from the final submission date and this will be arranged trough Skype or video conferencing .

The module is assessed by means of a coursework (100%) in the form of a written project report of up to 15,000 words which is the comprehensive major report on the subject reflecting, in a coherent manner, the entire student's learning experience and an oral examination in the form of viva. A viva is a compulsory part of the assessment process and all students must make themselves available for the project viva and a mutually convenient date will be arranged  between supervisors and students. Students who fail to attend a viva will automatically fail the module with the exception of those who apply for mitigating circumstances.

Each dissertation is initially assessed by two assessors, one of which is the supervisor. The second assessor may be any member of staff in the Faculty, preferably with an area of expertise pertinent to the project subject. During the viva the student will be given the opportunity to briefly describe his/her project and its main findings before a more detailed questioning. The viva gives the opportunity to the student to explain his/her research as well as prove that the work reported is the student's own. Also, full consideration of ethical and legal issues and professional approach to the project will be assessed throughout the viva.

For fairness and consistency, a panel designated by the Module Leader will look at all project reports as part of the moderation process. Therefore original marks are tentative.

Bibliography

Dawson, Christian W. (2000) The Essence of Computing Projects – A Student’s Guide, Prentice-Hall, Harlow, England.
- Brooks, F. P. (1995). The Mythical Man-month, Essays on Software Engineering. 2nd ed. Reading, Massachusetts, Addison-Wesley.
- Gilb, T. (1988). Principles of Software Engineering Management. Wokingham, Addison-Wesley.
- Avison, D. E. and G. Fitzgerald (1995) Information Systems Development: Methodologies, Techniques and Tools. McGraw-Hill ISBN 0-07-709233-3
- Jayaratna, Nimal (1994) Understanding and Evaluating Methodologies – NIMSAD, McGraw-Hill ISBN 0-07-707882-9
-    Breach, M. (2009), dissertation writing for Engineers and Scientist, Pearson Education Ltd.
-    Hart, C. (2005), Doing your Masters Dissertation (Essential Study Skills Series), SAGE Publications Ltd.
-   Schwalbe, K. (2007), Information Technology Management. Course Technology, 5th edition, ISBN:1423901452
-   England, E. and Finney, A. (2001), Managing Multimedia:Project Management for Web and Concergent Media: Book 1. People and Processes, 3rd edition. Addison Wesley.
-  Davies, J.W. (2001) Communication Skills:A guide for Engineering and Applied Science Students (2nd Edition), Pearson Practice Hall, ISBN: 0130882941.
-  Dawson, C.W. (2007) A practical Guide to Research Methods: A User-friendly Manual for Mastering Research Techniques and Projects, 3rd Revised Edition, How to Books Ltd.
ISBN: 1845282302
-  Kapur, G.K. (2005) Project Management for information, Technology, Business and Certification, Pearson Prentice Hall, ISBN: 013112335
-  Leedy (1996), Pratical Research: Planning and Design, 6th Edition, Prentice Hall, ISBN:0132414074
-  Martin and Schinzinger (1997) Ethics in Engineering (3rd Edition), McGraw-Hill, ISBN:0071141952
-  Reis (2001), Electronic Project Design and Fabrication (5th Edition), Prentice Hall ISBN:0130195650
-  Tavani, H.T. (2003) Ethics in an age of information and Communication Technology, John Wiley & Sons, ISBN: 0131915207
-  Weaver, P. (2004) Success in your Project:a guide to Student System Development projects, Prentice Hall.

Most of the above bibliography can be found online.